In these days of cell-phones and unlisted phone numbers, it's not as easy as looking in a phone book to find someone! (Although that does still work sometimes...) The first thing to realize about these searches is that they take time: you may have to check multiple sources and try contacting multiple phone numbers or addresses. Here is a list of directories and websites that you can use to search for people; you should search in as many of them as possible and try different spellings of names.
(Note: some websites will try to give you a little bit of free information and then ask you to pay before they show you more. Keep in mind that the additional information might or might not be what you need.)
- ReferenceUSA: A Multnomah County Library-provided resource. Use the "U.S. Consumers / Lifestyles" section to search a database of U.S. residents.
- Dex Knows: A phone and address directory for people and businesses. Can look up by name, phone number, or address.
- Pipl: A website that searches various directories and websites to try to find people. Many of the results will only give a little bit of information for free, but it can still be useful.
- FamilyTreeNow.com: Although this website advertises itself as a place to "discover your family tree," it can also be useful for finding contact information for people. It does not always provide phone numbers, but it does include possible addresses that you could use to try sending a letter.
- Facebook: A social networking website where users create profiles. Users can choose whether they want their profiles to be findable via a "People Search" page.
- LinkedIn: A professional networking website that is great for finding information about people who work in business or office jobs.
People who have lost contact with a family member can request assistance from the Salvation Army Missing Persons program. If your request is accepted, they will do a detailed search to try to put you back in touch.
If you are concerned about your personal information appearing on any of the websites listed in this post, you should check to see whether they contain information about how to opt-out or hide your personal information.
Good luck! And if you get stuck, please contact a librarian and we'll be happy to help!
"Rotarydial" image by Dhscommtech at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons